This is how children’s books should be written: light and playful with a crazy, opinionated narrator. Ellis Weiner’s The Templeton Twins Have an Idea is totally hilarious. It’s told using an omniscient narrator, who almost seems to be a character as well.
I think it was on Goodreads where I read a great review on Weiner’s book that mentions that the story tries to start about 3 times before it gets going. I found that to be interesting. Driven by curiosity, I decided to buy the book to find out why.
For some reason, I assumed that the book was for teens (I didn’t read much into the Goodreads review), I have no idea why I thought so, and expected it to be a bit thick like The Hunger Games. I was surprised to find a slim, blue book decorated with illustrations without and within.
Excited with my find, I was set on purchasing the book but was at the time shopping with my somewhat practical-minded cousin who believes buying a children’s book is a waste. Convinced by him, I left the book behind and exited the store. There went my joy.
But I was unable to stop thinking about the book. I wanted to know what the Templeton twins’ idea was and look at all the cool illustrations. So, when my cousin left, I snuck into Barnes & Noble and bought the slim, blue book.
Why didn’t I secretly purchase it on my Nook Color, you may wonder. Well, I previewed it on the Nook but didn’t like how the illustrations looked on it. They were too small. I prefer to view illustrations in a book where it’s a bit easier to see every detail. I could of course use the zoom feature on the Nook to see these details but that’s too much work.
The Templeton Twins is relayed by a narrator who never fails to mention at every given moment how wonderful he is and that he is doing a great job telling the story. We must all agree with him especially since he is forced to tell us this story. He doesn’t state why.
Anyways, the narrator tells us about the Templeton twins, Abigail and John, children of professor and inventor John Templeton (I love the rhythm of his name). On the day they were born, the Professor was badgered by a student to whom he gave a bad grade. But that’s the student’s fault.
The story jumps 12 years. The Templeton twins’ mother has died and now they live alone with their father, who is depressed and withdrawn. Shortly after convincing their father to allow them to have a dog (a ridiculous dog), the Templetons relocate so that their father can continue his research on a new invention at the Tickeridge-Baltock Institute of Technology (Tick-Tock Tech), a university with a clock on every building that rings and alarms at every hour (how annoying).
There, the Professor is badgered again by the same student from 12 years ago, Dean D. Dean, who accuses the Professor of stealing his idea for the invention. The Professor denies this but obsessed with proving himself right, Dean and his twin brother Dan kidnap the twins.
We readers become hooked as the story picks up from here. The exciting parts are when the Templeton twins use their talents and analytical skills to turn an unfortunate situation into one they can benefit from. The narrator keeps the story interesting with his comical interjections and the characters move the story along with their silly antics.
This is a story to be read aloud. The reader/speaker must take on the persona of the opinionated narrator. The silly questions and the play on words throughout the story makes this story perfect for being read aloud to an audience of children, and adults too.
The illustrations, done by Jeremy Holmes, fit the story perfectly. Since the story is based on inventions, the illustrations are like a diagram of sorts. If there is an illustration of an object, it is accompanied by tiny arrows that show how it works. There are also illustrations of machine-hands throughout the book that point helpfully to key points and phrases or simply to the next chapter.
Since The Templeton Twins have an Idea is the first in a series, I can’t wait for the others to be published. My favorite character was the narrator and I already miss him.
- Guest post by Ellis Weiner – in which I give the author of The Templeton Twins Have an Idea permission to swear (pinkme.typepad.com)
- “Trust me, you’re ecstatic about this blog tour” – The Narrator (chroniclebooks.com)
- Kid Konnection: The Templeton Twins Have an Idea (bermudaonion.net)